In episode one studious and athletic (he fights and rides) scholar, Sung Yeol loses everything he holds dear in one single sweep.
A powerful ancient vampire lords it over the palace in general and the Joseon Monarch in particular.
One objective is clear: no one really wants Vampire Evil Lord (addressed mononymously as Gwi) around anymore.
He may have been of help in building a dynasty, but seriously he’s a monster who’s now doing more harm than good.
For one thing he’s bitten more than his fair share of innocent maidens (200 hundred years’ worth) and let’s face it, the modern era of Joseon no longer wants or needs an abominable, dressing-gown-wearing vampire calling the shots.
But obviously he won’t simply take a hike, and prefers the cushy life in the palace: dwelling among humans, feeding on them and just being an undead nuisance.
The world would feel so empty without me…
Which brings us to our two handsome friends the Crown Prince Jonghyun and his scholar bestie Sung Yeol.
In time, he conscripts his scholar pal who joins the undercover team – also manned by a vampire guardian/hunter known as Hae-Seo.
At this point Gwi knows of the plot to unseat him from his bloody throne behind a throne. How dare humans think they can stop being his puppets?! It’s not over until he says it is. Which would be never.
We get to watch them kiss under the moonlight… then we get to watch him watch her sleep…and we generally relish these brief moments of love and romantic abandon because all too soon, it will be over. Nipped in the ever loving bud.
Episode one ends with Sung Yeol becoming a vampire turned by the dying Teacher. While his parents, fiancee and best friend are killed by the vengeful vampire Gwi, who takes offence to being plotted against.
Gee thanks, should have asked first though before turning me into a freaking monster!!
The most heart wrenching scene is where Sung Yeol is forced to bite and suck on Myung hee’s blood in order for him to survive. This is an element that will color the rest of his existence, as he will keep reminding himself he needs to survive – in order to reach the ultimate goal of destroying Gwi for good.
On a brighter spectrum we have bubbly bookseller Yang-sun.
She’s disguised as a young man to hawk books of all literary themes ranging from high brow historicals to neck-flushing, steamy low brow erotica. Accompanied with explanatory illustrations of course. Because picture books are way more fun apparently. The dirtier the better.
We are grateful for her little enterprise of being a bookseller and acquirer of all kinds of tomes…because if not she’d never have had a reason to meet him. Our once a human, forever a vampire Sung Yeol.
Sung Yeol hears she’s the go-to guy when you need those hard to find editions. He’s spent most of his vampire years (roughly 120 and counting) trying to find his long dead best friend’s diary. It contains a way to kill Gwi so of course, it must be retrieved at all cost.
Cross dressing bookseller (Yang Sun) shows up at the rendezvous, a gisaeng house. Here she will meet two different men who will somehow be linked to her future.
Impressed as our girl is by his skill, he’s not her guy – and she’s running late for her appointment with the real customer. She finally gets to the right room where HE is waiting behind a shadowy screen.
The sensuous mystery plays out but for a moment. Because Yang-sun just happens to have a squirrel under her sleeve, who just happens to escape beneath the screen.
Of course she goes after the frisky pet without thinking first. She unjudiciously pats down the mysterous client and gets back her squirrel, which promptly bites her.
By the time she picks her lust-ridden mind from the gutter the beautiful male gives her an assignment and is gone.
Like a true fangirl she will spend the next many days obsessing about him, telling her half-sister all about him and even writing a story about him.
But when they do get to meet again, it’s not in the circumstances she must have played out in her hot fantasies.
Vampire Sung-Yeol Laments his fate
When he’s not searching out the Kill Gwi manual, Sung Yeol takes out time to make a few rescue missions. He saves a group of women and girls from slavers, which will spread as a rumor/story to be shared and hash-tagged as a ‘Night Scholar’ hero vampire tale by all (including the impressionable Yang-sun).
But getting to live forever, having superpowers – and perpetually looking hot as hell to boot has its downside.
Sung Yeol laments to his assistant, beautiful gisaeng Su-hyang how his life as a vampire officially sucks. And how he’s always a hair’s breath from going into beast mode and feeding on whatever human catches his fancy.
To make it worse he can’t even dabble in the dating scene, since his vampire instinct dictates that he’ll want to bite any woman he falls for.
Later, Sung Yeol and Gwi have a hostile rooftop chitchat. Where once, Gwi had offered SY a Kingdom if the Scholar would join forces, now Gwi derives pleasure from tormenting him about Sung Yeol’s dead lover Myung Hee. SY swears to endure all just to win in the end by killing Gwi.
We’re rooting for you, Scholar SY.
Bookseller Yang-sun is back in the brothel/gisaeng house, where it seems she has most of her best paying customers.
She’s trying to sell mint copies of her new hit novel featuring the Night Scholar. She’s soon interrupted by Yoon who appears and drags her off to show her more dirty pics drawn by him.
In the midst of this riveting pastime the brothel is raided by Palace guards. This forces Yang-sun, an illegal bookseller to go into hiding. She finds a back room which happens to belong to Scholar Sung Yeol.
He plays peeping Tom while the clueless Yang-sun strips from her male getup into female attire. She’s mortified to find him there but she’s more worried about being discovered by the guards. So she pleads for him not to expose her, promising to owe him one.
Luckily Yang-sun escapes discovery, but at the price of being indebted to the Scholar. A few nights later, she goes out in search of him through an eerie forest path, and is accosted by a girl vampire.
Suddenly Sung Yeol appears to save her, and to her shock Yang-sun is made to finally see that her Scholar sex god might actually not be human.
In the meantime Gwi shows face, happy to have caught Sung Yeol’s attention at last. He swiftly races to the forest venue, perhaps intent to finally have that century overdue face-off with Sung-Yeol?
Joon Gi brings (vampire) sexy back!
Week One of Scholar Walks the Night looks promising. But needs to get better on so many levels. Still, it’s fun and different with just that touch of the improbable.
Will enjoy the journey just for the sheer escapism. And drool right along with bookseller Yang-sun at how dreamy our Scholar Vampire is. And Villain Gwi is certainly not doing shabby for a followup.
This looks like a fantasy period drama that will age nicely in the K-drama archives, already showing signs of developing into a solid favorite.